RWU to break ground on sailing center in May


With its new sailing center, Roger Williams University is hoping to make Bristol the sailing capital of the country.

University officials could have a shovel in the ground by the end of May, signaling the start of construction on a new 6,000-square-foot sailing center, should their application with the town proceed smoothly.

"The push to get this done as soon as possible is to benefit the people who are funding it," said Peter Wilbur, Associate Vice President of University Relations.

Mr. Wilbur, along with university officials and project architects, met with the town's planning department Tuesday for a technical review of the sailing center plans. The two-story building would offer ample storage space for the university's sailing team's boats on the first floor; and provide about 900 square-feet of room space on the second floor with an attached outdoor deck.

The deck would be outfitted with Adirondack chairs so visitors could take advantage of the topography, since the building will be constructed into the side of a hill, said Ashley Tully, Director of Capital Projects at the university.

Other features include mens and women's bathrooms/locker rooms, an upstairs kitchen, and a drying closet for sailing gear.

With the building site located remotely from the university's main campus, providing access for emergency personnel was a necessity.

"We have put in an access roadway and will install a fire hydrant," said Ms. Tully. "We know that the town has struggled with emergency access to the waterfront, and this will help with that."

Last May, after the university raised $1.7 million toward the project's $3 million price tag during its 10th Annual Captain's Cup Regatta, it announced its plans for the center.

Upon completion, the sailing center will be the hub for the university's sailing team, a coed program started in the late 1970s that in recent years, under the leadership of Coach Amanda Callahan, has become a national powerhouse. The team has been ranked No. 1 nationally since May 2011.

Mr. Wilbur estimated that the sailing center could be up-and-running by Spring 2015.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.